LET ME SUMMARIES
Interestingly, if you go into the Premium Content menu that appeared in the text link list at the right side of the LG Store home screen, you also get icons for Blinkbox, KnowHow Movies, Skype, Napster, vTuner, Eurosport Player, Goal.com and BBC Sport.LG Smart TV+: Design and FeaturesThere has never been a smart TV system that looks anything like Smart+ TV.Then theres the way different sources are all given equal weight by the tiling system. This box shows a rather nice high-res image captured from whatever was showing on the last source you were watching before switching to your current one.
Hit the Smart button on LGs remote controls and the picture you were watching dims and has the Smart+ TV home screen super-imposed on it. This really brings home the fact that one of the most important developments of LG Smart+ TV is that it treats EVERYTHING including the AV inputs as its own app, so it can be properly integrated into the TVs software interface.Well get into the nature of the content listed in the home screen tile bar presently, but first we need to point out that theres another extender tile at the right end of the tile bar that takes you to a longer list of apps and a different means of presentation.Where Smart+ TV really kicks off, though, is along the bottom third or so of the screen.
But we know from our recent visit to the webOS HQ in Silicon Valley that LGs hope is that these header screens could ultimately be populated by attractive high-res graphics supplied by each of the services covered by an app.What is LG Smart+ TVLG Smart+ TV; is the latest name LG is giving to its new webOS-derived smart TV interface. Scroll along the row of tiles and each of them rises in turn above the others as you highlight it, with a little bulge momentarily popping up at the top of each tiles as it moves up to make the motion feel more pronounced and natural. You can also opt to include Upcoming content on this list, or you can filter the shown content according to genre or source catch-up TV rather than broadcasts.
As in, how many content leap off points are provided in this relatively small area of screen real estate leaving you able to continue watching the image behind the menus. To the left is a Live TV column that presents a scrollable column of TV highlights, apparently based on a mix of your viewing tastes and pushed content suggestions. The left four boxes contain a mixture of live and upcoming programmes selected from the listings based on an analysis of your previous viewing habits, and you can scroll to more highlighted broadcast programmes by using the remotes Page Up and Down buttons.
For its here that you find a vibrant array of content tiles, organized like the spines of books on a bookshelf. If you drop it into one of the left-most nine spots, that app will appear in one of the tiles on the Home Screen. Now we’ve lived with it a little longer, we can finally decide whether it delivers. Either by pressing the Recent button on the remote this is a great addition to the remote layout, or by hitting the extension tile at the left side of the home screen tile bar.
Also on this follow-up screen is a timeline of whats showing now and next on the channel airing the programme youve opted to see more information on. The only pity is that it doesnt appear that you can set recording timers or reminders from here. You can also access all the inputs from here via a dedicated button on the remote, but many people will find the shortened list here very helpful. SEE ALSO: Sony Smart TV reviewAt the moment this menu design is left looking a bit empty by the fact that a number of the full-screen header images are currently just plain washes of colour coordinated to match the colour of the tile they relate to.
Scrolling beyond the right edge of the home screen brings in further links to a Web browser; a User Guide; a handy Device Connector app; LGs Smart Share system for setting up links with and sharing content from external devices; a Time Machine link for accessing your list of USB HDD recordings; a Screen Share app for setting up and using screen mirroring; a Camera app for use with one of LGs AN-VC500 Skype cameras; an LG Store link to LGs online app shop; links to each HDMI input labelled to show the source if the TV is able to identify it; and even a Notifications link that takes you to a screen listing recent system activity, such as a Thanks for choosing LG webOS TV message and reminders of the apps youve downloaded. Also impressive is its efficiency.The final feature to mention here is that the TV continually allows you to search pretty much all elements of its content library via a small perhaps a bit too small, actually magnifying glass icon that hangs from the top of almost every menu screen. This column covers multiple channels and restricts itself to whats showing now, becoming a much more digestible browsing tool than the full electronic programme guide.
This is the one youll select if you press the select button on the remote. Going back again to the Home menu, the rest of the tiles along the bottom alongside the Today one are rather more straightforward. Plus there are further links to the TV Guide EPG and Live TV viewing. As well as being beautifully presented, the Recent Activity box is extremely useful during day to day use of the TV.
In fact, this abbreviated input list is just the first of many examples of how the Smart+ TV designers have tried to think through every last aspect of your relationship with your TV, streamlining bits that traditionally present a major fiddly stumbling block with normal TVs. Theres also a My Page option, which collates content based around your presses of the Interest icon found on programme information pages, as well as handily letting you track your viewing and app history. The tiles become much shorter, and instead of the TV picture you get a full-screen graphic corresponding to whatever app tile youve got highlighted.tv, Twitter, Red Bull TV, Picasa, Deezer, Crackle, Facebook, and Docubox.
No content type broadcast, streamed, AV input, multimedia is given visual weight over any other. In fact, you dont even feel like you have to figure it out; you just instinctively know what to do. Going back to the Today menu and selecting the LG Store tile takes you to exactly the same menu that the Premium tile took you too! This rather odd situation suggests the Premium and LG Store tiles are something of a work in progress right now. First theres a Live Menu button on the remote that brings up a very handy set of overlaid shortcut menus to help you find broadcast content to watch.
Personally we felt webOS was a much more catchy, memorable and distinctive name, but there you go.Selecting the Premium tile, meanwhile, takes you to a page confusingly called LG Store making you wonder if you hit the LG Store tile on the previous page by mistake thats divided into four sections. The latter two are pretty self explanatory, while the first calls up a scrollable list of what seems to be the currently showing programmes on every channel so were not totally sure what the Recommended name for this feature refers to.The key point, however, is this looks to offer the kind of smart TV experience we’ve been secretly craving for a long time, and our previous time with the system proved very positive.
Moving across again theres a single-column Apps & Games section, where you can find both paid-for and free apps you can download to the TV if you so desire. First, its brilliantly colourful, catching your eye with its rich array of tile colours so exuberantly that you immediately want to explore whats on offer. This all works so fluently and is accessed so intuitively that as with all great innovations – you quickly start to wonder why on earth nobody has done something similar before.SEE ALSO: Samsung Smart TV reviewYou also notice when you first clock the main strip of the Smart+ TV interface that one of the file tabs sits slightly higher than the others.
Theres no sign at all, though, of apps for the ITV Player or 4oD, which is a pity when other brands most notably Samsung and Panasonic are now offering these catch up options. This is another great bit of joined up thinking that really helps you find relevant content. Turning to the apps available via LG Smart+ TV , the news is a little mixed overall.Every digital content source gets a full screen image of sorts on this menu approach, including photos, your USB timeshifting library and even each individual HDMI input.
Its LGs invention, so it can call it whatever it wants. Using the default set up, the first tile to the right of Recent Activity is called Today, and selecting it calls up a series of seven content boxes. There are tile links to key streaming services: the still exclusive to LG TVs Now TV Sky service; BBC iPlayer; Netflix including from June 11th 4K streaming support with compatible TVs; Amazon; Demand 5; and YouTube. Also on the right are icons providing quick access to the TVs settings menus and a list of key inputs live TV, and the four HDMIs.
SEE ALSO: Philips Smart TV reviewChoose one of the upcoming highlighted titles and you get more information on the programme, and can then go a step further to a menu where you can see in a simple list format all the upcoming episodes of the show youve selected, including episodes that might be on different channels.The only tile thats given extra weight in the opening list is a Recent Activity box that equates to around three of the normal tiles. A number of benefits of this fresh approach strike you right away.Were pretty much done with the Smart+ TV menus now, but there are a couple of other features of note.
Which of course accurately reflects the way more and more of us are now using our TVs as portals for an increasingly diverse array of source types. Also startling as you zip along the opening screen tiles is how incredibly fast the system is; shifting between tiles is more or less instantaneous, making all rival smart interfaces instantly feel clunky and dated by comparison.Turning finally to the extra apps available via the LG store, there are around 50 at the time of writing, including highlights of Wuaki. Though it wouldnt surprise us if there are plenty of wannabe imitators in the years to come.
Finally, to the far right, theres a menu column allowing you to jump off to dedicated pages devoted to Live TV, Catch-up TV, Premium paid for on-demand content, 3D content including, surprisingly, a small selection of high-profile pay per view 3D films, and Apps & Games. This shows along the top of the screen the input youre currently watching on the left with the date and time on the right. You just highlight an app you want to move up or down the list, push up on your remote, and then move the tiles left or right along the row until you get to the slot you want to put it in. Hopefully other catch up services might be integrated into this system later.
Well, we say apps plural, but at the time of writing the content was all from the BBC; Demand 5 content was nowhere to be seen.Another friendly touch of the expanded tile list part of the interface is that it allows you to establish extremely easily your own app order. Presumably these will all be added at some relative imminent point. But pressing these at the time of writing results in a Content is Unavailable message.
There are three initial menu options, Recommended, Search and Recorded.If you want to access more previously watched sources, moreover, you can.Its perhaps a slight pity that the Recent Activity memory resets when you turn the TV off, but we guess we can understand the thinking and probably technical constraints behind this. Having so many content links available at a glance makes you much more aware right away of just how many content sources your TV has – as well, of course, as streamlining your path to many of those content options.
Again, this all works so slickly and simply that even the most technophobic TV user will have no problem figuring it out. In the next section is Catch-up TV, showing two columns of highlights culled from catch-up TV apps. If you have any suggestion, just let me know.